Remembering My Friend John Lewis

July 24, 2020
Enewsletters

Dear Friend, 

This week, I remembered the conscience of the Congress and a now-immortal Civil Rights leader, John Lewis. Congressman Lewis encouraged us to engage in “good trouble,” challenging us to move our nation toward a more perfect union, and he was my friend. The world has lost a great leader. Also this week, I monitored House negotiations with the U.S. Senate and White House on a response to the ongoing COVID-19 public health and economic crisis; chaired a Helsinki Commission hearing on attacks on American press freedom here at home and the diminishment of our nation’s reputation as an international advocate for a free press; voted in the Judiciary Committee to advance legislation that ensures that Presidents and Vice-Presidents could be held responsible for criminal conduct and providing transparency and accountability for self-interested Presidential pardons; voted for the Great American Outdoors Act, which will protect our national parks and recreation areas; wrote to House leaders about my concerns over a misguided airports spending formula that, until rectified, could shortchange Memphis International Airport; introduced the Citizen Participation Act; voted to remove confederate statues and the bust of Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney, author of the court’s infamous 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford ruling, from the U.S. Capitol; applauded the inclusion of my priorities in the annual defense authorization bill; welcomed two of my provisions protecting wild horses and walking horses in the State, Foreign Operations, Agriculture, Rural Development, Interior, Environment, Military Construction, and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill for the fiscal year beginning October 1; celebrated the upcoming anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act; announced a significant grant to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC); and offered a coronavirus-related health tip. Keep reading and follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to see what I’m doing as it happens.

Remembering My Friend John Lewis
Monitoring Negotiations on Next Coronavirus Response Aid Package
Chairing Helsinki Commission Hearing on the State of Press Freedom at Home
Voting to Advance Legislation to Ensure Donald Trump and Future Presidents Are Held Accountable
Voting for Great American Outdoors Act
Writing to House Leaders about Misguided Airports Funding Formula
Introducing Citizen Participation Act
Voting to Remove Confederates and Racist Judge from Places of Honor in the Capitol
Applauding Inclusion of My Priorities in the NDAA
Welcoming Inclusion of Horse Measures in the Agriculture and Interior Spending Bills
Celebrating Upcoming Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
Announcing Diabetes Research Grant to UTHSC
Weekly Health Tip
Quote of the Week
 


Remembering My Friend John Lewis

Late last Friday night, I learned that the great John Lewis had passed. It’s often said that, in the House, we sometimes walk with giants; we rarely walk with saints. John Lewis was a saint. See my statement on his passing here and remarks I made on the House floor this week here and here. On Friday, I sent Alabama Governor Kaye Ivey a letter signed by the entire Alabama Congressional Delegation, asking that U.S. 80 from the Edmund Pettus Bridge to Montgomery be named in his honor and introduced legislation for that purpose. 

Monitoring Negotiations on Next Coronavirus Response Aid Package

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Senate Leader Charles Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week

I returned to Washington Monday in hopes that the Senate and White House would take up the House-passed Heroes Act and provide critical support for working Americans and stave off financial disaster for millions. The $600 per week federal supplement to state unemployment benefits will end for Tennesseans this week and yet the Senate has failed to act. Additionally, protections are still needed to help businesses maintain their payrolls through a continuation of the Paycheck Protection Program. As I write, a major rescue package for schools, another round of direct payments, and needed aid to those combatting the pandemic is in limbo.  The Senate, which has had two months to draw up its proposal, left town on Thursday.  I applaud Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Chuck Schumer for their work trying to move this effort to a resolution.

Chairing Helsinki Commission Hearing on the State of Press Freedom at Home

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On Thursday, the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, held a hearing on press freedom in the United States which I chaired.  I expressed my concern over recent attacks on journalists in the United States during Black Lives Matter protests throughout the country and potential political interference at the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), including at Voice of America. See my release, including my opening statement and questioning of witnesses here. See my questioning CNN’s Christiane Amanpour here.

Voting to Advance Legislation to Ensure Donald Trump and Future Presidents Are Held Accountable

On Thursday, I also participated in a Judiciary Committee mark-up of two bills that are designed to hold President Trump and future Presidents accountable. The No President is Above the Law Act would toll the statute of limitations for crimes while a President is in office, ensuring he or she could be held accountable after leaving the White House. The Abuse of the Pardon Prevention Act provides transparency and accountability in the pardon process when the President issues self-interested pardons.  It also says that Congress considers self-pardons to be illegal. I voted in favor of reporting both bills to the full House of Representatives for consideration. See my statement from the hearing here.

Voting for Great American Outdoors Act

On Wednesday, I voted for and the House overwhelmingly passed the Great American Outdoors Act, protecting our priceless national parks, forests and recreation areas. See my release here.

Writing to House Leaders about Misguided Airports Funding Formula

On Tuesday, I wrote to Speaker Pelosi and senior members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to express my concern about a misguided airports funding formula that provides windfalls for some small airports while shortchanging major airports, like Memphis International. See my release and the letter here.

Introducing Citizen Participation Act

On Friday, I introduced the Citizen Participation Act, which would make it easier to dismiss frivolous lawsuits brought to intimidate individuals because of their speech. The court system must not be a tool wielded by the powerful against the free speech of individuals. Freedom of Speech is a core principle of our democracy, and we must protect it. See my release here.

Voting to Remove Confederates and Racist Judge from Places of Honor in the Capitol

On Wednesday, I voted to remove Confederate statues and the bust of Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney from the U.S. Capitol and to replace the bust of Taney with a bust of our first African American Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall. Taney was the author of the infamous Dred Scott decision and does not deserve a place of honor in the Capitol. See my release on the vote here.

Applauding Inclusion of My Priorities in the NDAA

On Tuesday, I applauded the inclusion of several of my priorities in the annual National Defense Authorization Act. Those priorities included an aerial drone program to be housed at the University of Memphis. See my release here.

Welcoming Inclusion of My Wild Horse Measure in Interior Spending Bill

I was pleased to see that two of my amendments were included in the annual appropriations bill for the Agriculture and Interior Departments. These measures will direct the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to more humanely treat the iconic Wild Horses of our national wild lands and fund a USDA Office of Inspector General audit of the Horse Protection Program, which investigates the soring of Tennessee Walking Horses. See my remarks on the amendments from the House floor here.

Celebrating Upcoming Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

On Sunday, we will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a measure I’ve championed since my days in the Tennessee state Senate. As a childhood victim of polio, I have long been aware of the need to accommodate those with special needs and to adapt our physical surroundings to meet the needs of all. See my statement on the anniversary here.

Announcing Diabetes Research Grant to UTHSC

On Thursday, I announced that the University of Tennessee Health Science Center will receive a significant grant to conduct research on diabetes from the National Institutes of Health. See that release here.

Weekly Health Tip

Again this week, I want to call attention to the alarming spike in coronavirus cases as cities reopen, prematurely and often without implementing basic precautionary measures like wearing masks and adhering to social distancing guidelines. Please consider the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocols and those adopted by Memphis and Shelby County for staying safe in this ongoing pandemic: Wash your hands frequently for at least 25 seconds; keep a minimum social distance of six feet from others; wear a face mask when out in public; and avoid being in crowds of more than 10. We must work together to get through this. 

Quotes of the Week

“My dear friends: Your vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have to create a more perfect union.” -- Congressman John Lewis, in a September 6, 2012 speech in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.” -- Congressman John Lewis, remarks at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 1, 2020. 

As always, I remain,
Most sincerely,

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Steve Cohen
Member of Congress